One of the coolest things I did while in Paris was take a Paris Running Tour.
On Monday of my Paris trip, both of my friends had to work so I was left to my own devices. Hmm, what to do? When coming up with a plan, I remembered that I had read a recap of a Paris Running Tour on my friend Ashley’s blog last year. Perfect! I could get some exercise and sightsee at the same time. :)
I looked up the company Ashley did her tour through, Paris Running Tour, and decided to go for it. After some email exchanges with Jean-Charles, the owner of the company and one of the running tour leaders, we decided on a customized tour, all around Paris, covering nearly 11 miles. Sweet!
Jean-Charles met me near my friend’s place in the 12th arrondissement (east Paris) at 9 a.m., with a map of our route in hand for me to take home after, and a camera to get shots of me along the way (love that he does this – he sends you the photos after!). I was really excited – we were going to see so much! (click on the map below for a larger view of our route)
We set off running with our final destination being the Eiffel Tower on the far west side of the city, cruising at around a 9 minute mile pace and stopping frequently for sightseeing and photos. While we ran, Jean-Charles told me all about the history of the areas we were passing through, which I loved.
Our first stop was in the Marais district at the Place des Vosges, which is the oldest planned square in Paris.
Next we took a short cut through the Hôtel de Sully on Rue Saint-Antoine.
Followed by the a visit to the remains of the old city wall! At the end of the 12th century before leaving for his third crusade, King Philippe Auguste built a protective wall around Paris. Parts of the wall are still visible today, and here I am with the longest preserved portion of the wall.
Next, a visit to the Hôtel de Ville, which houses the city’s local administration, and also apparently loves women’s rugby.
We ran over the river (the Seine) to visit the island of "La Cité".
And stopped to pay a visit to Notre Dame, of course.
Here’s a look at the first public clock in Paris, which was commissioned in 1371. (The current clock is circa 1535.) It reminded me of the beautiful clock in the Old Town Square in Prague!
Behind me in the next photo you can see the Paris-Plages (Paris beach), which is a manmade beach on the right bank of the river. Also note the small red Eiffel Tower. :)
The subway entrances/signs in Paris are really cool, so I asked to get a picture with this modern art one (at the Palais-Royal station), which was installed in 2000. My other favorites are the ones created a hundred years earlier during the art nouveau movement. The other entrance of the same station (just in front of the Louvre) features one of the art nouveau signs! (Click here to see some pictures of it.)
Next up was a classic: the Louvre! No trip to Paris (or running tour!) is complete without at least visiting the outside of this iconic museum.
Next up, one of the pedestrian bridges, the Pont des Arts, which links the Institut de France and the central square of the Louvre. Note all the lover’s locks I mentioned in my previous Paris post.
From the west side of the bridge we could see the Eiffel Tower! :)
We took a detour on the left bank; opposite me you can see the garden of the Tuileries, where we were headed next.
Back over another bridge we go!
Hey look, it’s le Musée d’Orsay (behind me on the right)! My favorite museum. :) I didn’t make it there this trip, but I love it!
From there, we stopped by the French version of the White House: the Élysée Palace, which is the official residence of the President of the French Republic.
On to Le Petit Palais – the “little palace”, across from – you guessed it – Le Grand Palais.
Getting closer to the Eiffel Tower – excitement is building! Even the sun decided to join us. Also, please note the random T-Rex on the boat below. Awesome?
Look – it’s the Flame of Liberty, a full-sized, gold-leaf-covered replica of the flame at the upper end of the torch carried in the hand of the Statue of Liberty.
The flame is located near the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma, on the Place de l’Alma, in the 8th arrondissement. On a sad note, the underpass behind the flame is where Princess Diana famously had her fatal car crash. :( Someone was there ahead of us taking a picture holding a photo of Diana.
The closer we got to the Eiffel Tower, the more beautiful the day became.
As we started running up the hill towards the best Eiffel Tower views, we stopped to say hello to a statue of George Washington on le Place D’Iena.
And then, suddenly, there it was! We made it – Esplanade du Trocadéro, directly across the river from the Eiffel Tower and the best seat in the house for views.
By the time we stopped, Jean-Charles and I had run nearly 11 miles and spent 3.5 hours exploring the city on foot. What a fun way to spend a morning! Since I always like getting photos of my watch after runs, I asked to take one of his. :)
If you’re in Paris and want to explore the city via your running shoes, I’d highly recommend checking out Jean-Charles at Paris Running Tours. He was so nice and I had the best time hearing all about Paris’s history while we ran through it! He’s also a marathoner (I totally want to do the Paris Marathon now after he raved about it) and a vegan (yes, in France – that must be rare!), so we had a lot of fun talking running and food in between all the history lessons. Paris Running Tours offers tours of all distances, short and long, and there are a number of set tours as well as the option to do a customized tour like I did. Obviously the longer and more customized the more expensive, but it was so worth it!
Thumbs up to a fun morning! Thanks again for the great time, Jean-Charles!
Have you ever explored a foreign city on foot? I always love running when I’m traveling to see more of a city and to get my bearings. When I lived in Prague, I loved running around it to explore – with the exception of the cobblestones, that is. ;)